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Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group announced today that it will lift capacity restrictions on restaurants and retail locations across the state, begin focusing on social distancing best practices and work towards facilitating the safe reopening of larger, non-contact attractions effective May 22.
“Tennesseans have worked incredibly hard to do their part and help slow the spread of COVID-19 so that our state can begin to reopen. Thanks to their continued efforts, we’re able to allow restaurants and retail businesses to operate at greater capacity and large attractions to open in a safe and thoughtful way,” said Governor Bill Lee in a press release issued by the Governor’s office.
“Our state continues to see downward trends in case growth and meets the White House criteria for a phased reopening. This progress has been hard-won, and we can build upon it by reopening while also maintaining common-sense safety measures like mask-wearing and good hygiene. By taking the Tennessee Pledge, our businesses can reopen in a way that protects the health of their customers and employees, and protects the livelihoods of hard-working Tennesseans.”
Details of those new social distancing guidelines have not yet been released and are expected to be announced early next week. The governor did, however, promote the continued use of “common-sense” safety measures such as wearing masks and practicing good hygiene.
The new large attractions guidance will apply to businesses that can effectively practice social distancing including racetracks, amusement parks, waterparks, theaters, dinner theaters, auditoriums, large museums and more.
Restrictions on large social gatherings of 10 or more people are to remain in place at this time.
Updates to restaurants guidelines will include a lift on capacity restrictions as long as social distancing guidelines are being adhered to, such as keeping at least 6 feet of distance between tables.
Tennessee officials will continue to work with the White House and abide by criteria for phased reopenings including downward trajectories of influenza and cold-like illnesses for a 14-day period, a downward trajectory of documented COVID cases within a 14-day period and the maintenance of sufficient hospital capacities.
Hospital capacities in Tennessee remain sufficient at this time, and Tennessee continues to meet the goal of testing 2% of the population per month.
When will Dollywood reopen?
Of course, this announcement paves the way for some of Sevierville’s most popular attractions to begin making plans for reopening including, of course, Dollywood. However, Dollywood has not yet released details on an official reopening date or strategy.
Dollywood has been closed for two months after opening for a single day to passholders on passholder preview day. Splash Country’s opening, which normally takes place in mid-late May, will also be delayed, and is expected to open alongside Dollywood once the official announcement has been made.
These closures put an abrupt end to Dollywood’s annual Festival of Nations celebration which was originally meant to run from March 14 to April 20. It is likely that Dollywood will delay their highly publicized Flower and Food Festival, originally slated for May 8 to June 14 for the park’s reopening.
Will masks be required at Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country?
While it is impossible to know exactly what sort of safety guidelines, capacity limits and restrictions the parks will put into place upon reopening, it is likely that Dollywood will follow in the same vein of other local attractions like Anakeesta and Skybridge, both of whom announced reopening plans this week.
Likely scenarios include encouraging facial coverings, social distancing and frequent hand washing/sanitization for both guests and employees.
Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.